“A BOOK. BLUE, WHITE BACKGROUND. STINKS OF MILD DISAPPOINTMENT.”
Note: The following review goes into detail about the novel. SPOILER ALERT. Every 25 days I will be reviewing another entry in the New Canon, this time the novels Aftermath and Lost Stars. Why every 25 days? Since it seems like the Star Wars movies have completely monopolized the holiday season for the next several years, it seems festive (you know, 25 days of Christmas?). Plus, I just like the number 25. Next month, on August 13, I will be reviewing the second volumes of Marvel’s Darth Vader and Star Wars, Shadows and Secrets and Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon.
“The War Is Not Over.”
The story of Aftermath focuses mainly on an Imperial meeting on the Outer Rim planet of Akiva. It has only been a few months since the destruction of the second Death Star on Endor, and what is left of the Empire is scrambling to figure out what to do with the power vacuum left in the wake of the deaths of the Emperor and Darth Vader. The focus of the meeting is to formally decide what the Empire should do now that the Rebel Alliance has officially rebranded itself as the New Republic, and has been gaining ground across the Galaxy. Unfortunately for the Imperials, things get complicated when a rebel scout, the hero Wedge Antilles, accidentally stumbles upon the meeting and sends a short message out to any rebel agents on the planet before being captured. Cue our main four heroes—a former Imperial loyalty officer Sinjir Rath Velus, a PTSD-stricken rebel pilot Norra Wexley, her son and boy-genius Tammin and his battle-droid Mister Bones and Zabrak bounty hunter Jas Emari—who all have to band together to put a stop to the meeting while kickstarting a rebellion on Akiva. If that wasn’t complicated enough, we also get a few “interludes” between chapters, which are short glimpses into other parts of the galaxy, featuring Han Solo, Mon Mothma, hints at Boba Fett and more.
“I Performed Violence.”
Aftermath paints a very broad portrait of the Star Wars galaxy after Return of the Jedi, but unfortunately it lacks the depth needed to truly satisfy. The characters are very generic with only a few exceptions, specifically Sinjir and Mister Bones. Sinjir’s newfound morality and general swagger charms in nearly every scene, and Mister Bones is just a straight up murder-bot who likes to dance while decapitating stormtroopers. More please. While Norra and Temmin aren’t particularly interesting, they are decent enough plot devices. Jas, however, is just about the most generic bounty hunter imaginable. She is skilled, quick to anger, likes to “work alone,” but suddenly she only now realizes that having a team has advantages, and she is only here to make money. Yawn.
Considering that this is our first look past Return of the Jedi, it’s hard not to be disappointed that Aftermath rarely does more than give vague hints and generalizations of the new state of the galaxy. The “interludes” are a fun idea, and some of them are genuinely intriguing, but they really only give a brief snapshots of different parts of the galaxy. This ties into my biggest gripe with Aftermath: it left me wanting more on nearly all fronts. I suppose it’s a good thing that I wanted to continue reading after I reached the last page, but reflecting on it now, it was very unsatisfying. I get the sense that Chuck Wendig was very limited in what he was allowed to explore in Aftermath, since it came out before The Force Awakens and Disney was notoriously tight-lipped on the post-Return of the Jedi universe at the time. I hope that for his sequel, Life Debt: Aftermath, Wendig is given more authority, because there is a lot of setup and promises in Aftermath that I would like to see fulfilled.
“Even A Small Group Of People Can Change The Galaxy.”
The writing style of Aftermath is… odd, to say the least. It’s written in the present tense, which is already unusual, but that isn’t the strangest thing about it. It’s written in the “stream of consciousness” style, which leads to weird, disjointed sentences. It is hard to adjust to at first, but as you continue to read, it becomes less noticeable. It feels more like a script than a novel. If you want to get the best possible experience, I highly recommend listening to the audiobook, which makes the disjointed sentences less noticeable and even has full Star Wars sound effects.
Aftermath is an interesting but flawed novel that gives us a broad but shallow look at one of the least explored but most interesting eras of Star Wars. The characters are bland with a few notable exceptions, and the main story is engaging though frustratingly narrow. I recommend reading it for the Mister Bones character alone, and if you like Star Wars and want to get a general sense of what happened after Return of the Jedi.
Have any suggestions for what I should read next? Should Mister Bones make it into a movie? Tweet me (please) @adam_mcconnell. And be sure to follow us @YouNerded.
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